The bar is set pretty high for modern marketers. Even with unprecedented budgets, headcounts, and resources, execution is hard. Tasked with the growing expectations of proving and improving ROI, demand generation marketers need solutions that will deliver results across the board. Marketers need solutions that engage their audience – that activate top prospects who rapidly become highly qualified leads for sales and close more quickly.
Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to find and engage your audience – 86% of B2B marketers today are using content marketing, and 70% are creating more content today than they were a year ago. This stuff works. But marketers are still struggling to create “the kind of content that engages” – simply too many of us are creating content that never sees the light of day.
What kind of content engages? Content that adds value for the user.
Interactive formats add more value for the user by creating a two-way dialogue – enabling a personalized, user-focused experience from start to finish.
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Interactive content comes in many shapes and sizes, but they all start from a small number of core content types.
Marketers use these building blocks to create stand-alone experiences, such as ROI calculators or persona assessments, or to layer into existing content to build things like interactive infographics, interactive videos, and interactive white papers.
At its core, interactive content is a way to have a conversation with your audience. Interactivity brings the dynamism and persuasive power of an in-person interaction to a landing page, blog, email, paid media ad – or anywhere else you might find your audience.
Part of why it works is because humans simply can’t resist the call to test themselves, compete, compare, share their opinion, and have fun. At the same time, there’s a give and take with the content that allows the user to get a very different result or next step in their content journey based on how they answered – and that personalization is appealing.
Interactivity has been a staple of advanced digital marketing for years, with powerhouses like The New York Times and BuzzFeed getting early starts with content that provokes and persists – in social media and in our prospect’s memories. But it’s just starting to pick up steam in the B2B marketing world. Until recently, it’s been hard and expensive for the majority of marketers to create innovative content at scale – often requiring custom development, agency time, and serious budgets.
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But advances in marketing technology have enabled B2B marketers to catch up to consumer brands and media companies: many are now using interactive content to build larger databases, develop rich prospect profiles, and improve lead scoring. SMBs, mid-market companies, and large enterprises like EMC, Cisco, Atmel, and Oracle alike are using interactive content to start conversations and add value for their buyers.
Customers are looking for value from content. Successful content solves a pain point, answers a question, or offers other information prospects are looking for.
One reason interactive content is so powerful is it gives the user immediate and tailored results they care about. Actively answering questions or participating in interactive content guides prospects to specific results in real time that address their problems, challenges, or ideas. With static content, the user is left to sort through the thought leadership and understand how a solution might address their specific challenges on their own.
The two-way conversation of interactivity offers more value to the marketer, as well. By educating your audience, you simultaneously educate yourself about them. You receive valuable, detailed profile information about your prospect’s pains, challenges, goals, and thought process. That data can directly help you lead score, identify a persona, qualify a prospect, and guide your audience down a specific path in their buyer’s journey. You can follow up with additional specific pieces of content that address (and ideally help solve) their issues or problem. Your content can now ask and answer questions for your audience in your stead.
Connecting your interactive experiences to your marketing automation and CRM systems allow you to leverage all your existing campaigns, programs, and content – but more quickly guide the right lead into the right nurture track.
In 2014, DemandGen Report found that just 5% of buyers would provide detailed contact information in exchange for a white paper. As prospects become less and less willing to provide their contact information in exchange for content, marketers need new ways to identify, score, nurture and guide their prospects through the buyer’s journey.
That same DemandGen Report study also found that 91% of buyers are looking for more visual and interactive content. Buyers are looking for something new, and it’s up to marketers to provide them with more stimulating content that offers greater value.
And the mousetrap really works – B2B marketers see a 30% click-through rate on their content, 85% of users complete the entire content experience and convert on lead forms at a whopping 45% submission rate.
Think of interactive content as one component of your overall marketing programs and strategy, not as a brand new strategy. Wherever and however you use traditional content today, you could layer in interactivity:
I’m pretty sure interactive content has been around since the birth of the internet. Okay, not quite, but how long have those surveys been around that tell you how much you know about a movie or whatever the heck? They’ve been hugely popular for pretty much ever and I don’t think they’re going anywhere.